Whale Talk

Author: Chris Crutcher

Publisher: New York: Greenwillow Books 2001
ISBN- 978-0688180195
pages: 224
Author's website

Classification: Young Adult Fiction
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Topics: bullying, sports, abuse
Media Type: Book

Grade level: 8-adult

Reader's annotation:
How does an multiracial adopted boy who refuses to play by the system rules become such a leader in his small town school? He stands up for the down-trodden and becomes the advocates for all those who can’t do it themselves.

Summary: T.J. Jones is an anomaly at his school. Multiracial, adopted, and one of the top students, he stands out from the others. Although everyone knows he is a great athlete he refuses to go out for football, something many of the conservative community members can’t understand. He works hard to keep his temper in check when he sees bullies messing with other students but he doesn’t hesitate to come to the victim's assistance. Then one of his teachers asks him to put together a swim team for the school so that he can be the coach and T.J. pulls together a group of misfits that can finally find something they might be good at. Outside of school T.J. helps out with his therapist when she needs another person in dealing with abuse cases and his family ends of taking in a little girl who has been abused by her step-father, one of the town bullies. What starts out as an act of generosity has grave consequences to everyone in T.J.’s life.

Evaluation: An excellent book about what it means to fit in and how we function together each with our own demons to deal with. Gives perspective to the term “bad things happen”. Anyone who has had to deal with bullying, misperceptions, and prejudice will relate to some part of this book.

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I grew up outside of Boston, went to college in western MA and lived in NYC dancing for several years before getting my teaching credentials and unintentionally moving to Santa Cruz CA. Married and divorced with two kids almost grown, a daughter in college and a son in high school, I am thrilled to be a librarian now, something that I should have done years ago. I love the applications of technology and realize that I have been interested in that since my first computer class back in 1986 - a new requirement for teaching degrees. Finally I can combine my love of curriculum, educational resources, working with adults and children, and technology applications.